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Fire destroys six-storey wood building under construction in British Columbia

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by Richard Gilbert last update:May 17, 2011

The developer of The Remy condominium in Richmond, British Columbia is planning to rebuild the project, after a massive fire destroyed two of the first six-storey wood-frame buildings being constructed under the revised B.C. building code.

VANCOUVER

The developer of The Remy condominium in Richmond, British Columbia is planning to rebuild the project, after a massive fire destroyed two of the first six-storey wood-frame buildings being constructed under the revised B.C. building code.

A massive fire ripped through the construction site for The Remy, owned by Oris Development Corp., on May 3 and, by the time firefighters arrived, the building was engulfed in flames.

No one was injured in the fire, but a total of 188 suites were damaged, including 81 in the north building and 107 in the centre building.

“We had about 200 people working on this site. It was going full tilt,” said Oris owner Dana Westermark.

“We were into the drywall stage on the north building and framing on the centre building.”

Westermark said a range of trades were working on the site.

“It’s a blow to all the trades, as well as us,” he said.

“There will be a delay getting people back on the project, but most of the major trades are committed to proceed.”

A separate daycare facility didn’t burn down, but an investigation will be undertaken to ensure the building wasn’t damaged by the flames.

“The primary thing to do right now is to get the site cleaned up, so we can get a good look at it,” said Westermark.

“There was a parking garage underneath the building and a second level of parking in part of the building. We must clean up the site to see if there has been any damage to the parkade, but we have to wait for the firefighters to complete their investigation.”

Westermark is getting advice from Charan Sethi, owner of Tien Sher Development Group Inc., who has been through a similar experience.

Sethi had to pick up the pieces after a fire burned part of the $625 million Quattro project in Surrey, B.C. while it was under construction.

According to Sethi, it could take about three to four weeks to complete the fire investigation and sort out the insurance.

In the aftermath of the fire, Sethi held meetings with trades and consulting engineers to develop a plan for the reconstruction of the two buildings.

The Office of Housing and Construction adopted changes to the B.C. Building Code in April 2009, which increased the limit on wood-frame construction from four to six storeys.

The changes to the code represent the desire for technical advance and the increased use of wood products to stimulate economic growth in the province.

During a consultation process with the government, several groups had concerns about fire resistance, water supply, and capacity requirements for sprinklers.

In this case, construction of the two buildings at the Remy was scheduled to be completed this summer.

The sprinklers weren’t yet installed.

last update:May 17, 2011

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